By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — CROWN POINT — Tropical Storm Irene battered Helen Sprague’s mobile home in 2011, and the situation looked pretty grim.
Nearby streams flooded her lot on a back road in Crown Point, flowing around her home.
“It sank into the ground several inches,” Sprague said. “When we jacked it back up, the seams started to separate.”
That left her with a mobile home that was literally falling to pieces — and she had nowhere else to live.
‘MY DREAM HOUSE’
A representative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency came by and said Sprague didn’t qualify for federal disaster aid because she could still live in the home.
All seemed hopeless, until James Davis of AuSable Valley Habitat for Humanity asked if she’d be interested in their program.
Now Sprague is watching work by Habitat volunteers progress on a single-story wood-frame bungalow near her old mobile home — but on higher ground — and she hopes to be living there in September.
“Jim (Davis) helped me get my dream house,” Sprague said. “Jim told me they could help me out.”
Habit for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry that builds for people in need.
“That’s why we do this work,” Davis said. “It’s like an old-fashioned barn-raising.”
The Housing Assistance Program of Essex County (HAPEC) is paying for materials and finish work, and Habitat for Humanity volunteers are constructing the house.
“I’ve had so many people come here and volunteer,” Sprague said. “I had people on the roof one day, putting rafters on. My brother, Jim, came down, and they put the windows in.”
The plumbing and electrical wiring is being installed now, she said, and Sheet-rock screwed in to the walls.
“We’re within a month of finishing. I’m getting volunteers together for painting soon.”
Davis said Habitat for Humanity framed the structure, put the roof and windows on, and Shelly McKinley of High Peaks Builders in Lake Placid agreed to be the contractor to bring it to completion.
“It’s been a wonderful project,” Davis said. “After Tropical Storm Irene went through, HAPEC called us and said Irene had dumped a ton of water on Helen’s (property) and broke her trailer in half.
“She’d been living in a broken trailer.”
He said the Habitat volunteers went to Sprague’s property on weekends, and work progressed at a rapid pace.
“It’s a tremendous amount of fun when you get six to nine guys, and everybody knows what they’re doing, sawing boards, pounding nails.
“We had all four walls up in eight hours,” Davis continued. “Roof trusses went up the next weekend. Then sheeting and the metal roof went on the third weekend.
“Windows and the porch went on the fourth weekend. Adirondack siding went on the fifth weekend.”
Sprague is very appreciative of their work, he said.
“She stood out there with a grin from ear to ear. She’d been putting up with a trailer that has wind blowing through the door and walls.”
Once Sprague is settled in her new home, the mobile home will be towed away and demolished, said Alan Hipps, executive director of the Elizabethtown-based Housing Assistance Program.
“It’s worked out great. We were able to get together with Habitat; we had a common interest. They provided a lot of the labor; we provided money for materials and the finish carpentry.
“It will be quite an improvement for the area and tremendous improvement for Helen’s living conditions.”
Sprague said she’s excited about her new home and appreciative of what Habitat for Humanity, Housing Assistance and members of her family who pitched in have done for her.
“It’s a blessing to my life. I plan on having a barbecue for everyone when it’s all over.”
Sprague also found work this year with Mountain Lake Services of Port Henry.
“It’s been my year. First, I got a full-time job, and then I got a house.”
Hipps said this is one of their success stories.
“It’s a great project and a wonderful outcome.”
Email Lohr McKinstry:firstname.lastname@example.org